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Just Engaged: Ayana and Patrick

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Ayana and Patrick Just Engaged

Bride: Ayana Baraka, 26, Grad Student

Groom: Patrick Ryan Parker, 26, Analyst

The Big Day: Date coming soon

Where and how did you meet your man?
I met Ryan (I call him by his middle name) in high school through a mutual friend, although, we didn’t officially meet until college.

Were you looking for love at the time?
I definitely was not. After my last relationship, I thought love was something made up my Walt Disney.

What was your first impression of him?
When I first met Ryan I thought, “Okay, what is this guy after?” Our situation was a bit different because we were cyber buddies. We hadn’t met face-to-face until our accidental first date. At which point, I was completely smitten.

What was his first impression of you?
I hope he was thinking, this chick is bad, but he was probably really thinking, this woman in crazy.  I didn’t hold back my opinions on our first date.

Did you play hard to get?
I did. He was in school at Penn State and I was in school in New Jersey.  Both of our lives were changing rapidly, and I didn’t want a false sense of hope about what we could be when we lived so far from each other.

Was it love at first sight?
It was love at first listen. I was relieved to finally be able to have real tantalizing conversation with a man.

At what moment did you know he was “The One” for you?
I knew he was the one for me when he sent me flowers the day after our first date.

How long did you date before you got engaged?
Four years.

Did you have a hunch he was going to propose?
I had no idea. He always said that he didn’t want a long engagement, and I was leaving for California in pursuit of a Masters Degree.

Best gift he ever got you?
His time. Our relationship has mostly been log distance.  He was in school in Pennsylvania and I was in New Jersey.  Then he had to move to Indiana for work and I could only see him for three months at a time with long stretches in between.  Then he moved back to New Jersey and I moved to California.  We definitely appreciate the moments we have together.

How did he pop the question?
He tricked me into thinking that I was going to his company holiday party at the W Hotel.  He said he would meet me there because he was helping to set up the event and was rewarded with a free room. A corporate town car picked me up from my house.  He said he was in the room with a coworker watching the game.  I was given a company care package at the front desk and room key.  I burst into the room to surprise him and his coworkers, but to my surprise, I was greeted by the sounds of Luther, flashing lights, old memorabilia of our time together and him at the end of a path of rose pedals.  I didn’t see the ring at first, and his words I don’t remember.  I responded to the amount of love I felt through his energy with a yes.

Ryan, were you nervous?
I’ve never been that nervous before in my life!

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